3dtouch_trimmedBy Safia Yallaoui

UWE is the first University to provide a 3D printer in an academic library in the UK and are allowing it to be used for free by all UWE students.

To use the new technology a student must design a 3D structure using a CAD package and convert this into a file that the printer can read using a piece of software called Axon that must be downloaded.

The structure is then printed by layering a fine plastic thread according to X and Y coordinates in order to build a 3D object.

UWE is encouraging all students to use the equipment and especially those studying subjects such as Architecture and Planning who can use the printer to see their designs as a physical model.

The university was able to have access to the new printer, some of which are already being used in the Faculty of Technology and the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE, due to a donation from 3D Systems Limited and UWE’s connection with the subsidiary company Bits from Bytes.

Featured on UWE’s website, Andrew Bathchelor, UWE Senior lecturer in Product Design, said: “This initiative offers a valuable new resource for students. By linking with Bits from Bytes we are able to bring the concept of 3D printing to all students…We are sure UWE students will be inventive once they begin to see the possibilities of this technology. The 3DTouch will enhance the extensive range of resources we offer to students though UWE’s library service.”

Co-Founder of Bits From Bytes, also featured on UWE’s website, Iain Major said: “We are keen to support the first 3D printer into a UK academic library as it places 3D printing at the heart of the University. All students will now be able to print 3D components for free and it will be fascinating to see what designs they come up with…”

The 3D printer is currently on Level 2 of Frenchay Library and is running on a free-to-use pilot scheme, eventually students may be charged to use it as the piece of technology is worth £2,495.

For students wishing to seek more information about how to use the printer please go to www.uwe.ac.uk.